The Sexist

“Swing It Again, Elin!” In Sweden, Domestic Violence Is Girl Power

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Sweden, a nation that has managed to avoid war for over 200 years, has nevertheless been quick to condone overseas agression in one recent conflict: Stockholm-born Elin Nordegren's reportedly golf-club assisted assault on her philandering husband, Tiger Woods. Today on the Daily Beast, Katarina Andersson noted how some prominent Swedish media types have reacted to the Nordegren-Woods affair. Namely, "Swing it again, Elin!":

Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor in chief of Aftonbladet, the country's biggest newspaper, on his personal blog. One of the paper's top reporters, Ann Söderlund, proclaimed, “Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club."

Britta Svensson, a well-known columnist at the tabloid Expressen and a former U.S.-based correspondent, commented, “Our Swedish hearts are overwhelmed with pride, because our very own Elin didn’t take any s—. Just like a tough Swedish girl shouldn't. Elin is our heroine.”

The American media, too, has been quick to excuse Nordegren's alleged assault on Woods, which left him lying bewildered in the middle of the road, next to a busted car, with scratches on his face and possibly a broken tooth. Stateside, Tiger's cheating has been deemed far more scandalous that Nordegren's physical assault—commenters have labored to paint Nordegren as the victim to Woods' web of affairs, but have hesitated to recognize Woods as a victim of domestic violence. Still, I've yet to hear from anyone actually endorsing Nordegren's outburst as an act of girl-power. Until now. Writes Andersson:

The culture of child-rearing in Sweden makes sure that girls have a strong sense of self. "Swedish women like Elin are brought up to be independent and strong,” explains Karin Magnusson, the op-ed editor for Aftonbladet, "and you can only stand for just so much humiliation. We're excited about this. We're hoping Elin will file for divorce and show Tiger—and the world—what Swedish women stand for."

If Swedish cultural commentators want the world to know that Swedish women stand for divorcing cheaters, I think that's fine—if a bit odd. If they want the world to know that Swedish women stand for beating the cheaters and then divorcing them, I think that's a fucked up standard to set for an entire country of girls and boys. Plenty of Swedish girls will grow up to be cheaters, too—do we want their future spouses to grow up thinking it's empowering to physically assault them for screwing around?

Perhaps I'm working against a bit of a cultural "girl power" divide here, but I'm afraid that Nordegen's domestic violence role-reversal has gotten some feminist signals crossed. I don't know too much about the culture of Swedish child-rearing, but I do know some girl power universals: Girl power is about having a strong sense of self, standing up for yourself, and not taking peoples's shit. Sometimes, girl power is about being empowered physically—for purposes of self-esteem and self-defense. It's not about beating the shit out of people! And it's certainly not about encouraging domestic abusers to keep up the good work. I know that male abusers have been beating the shit out of their spouses for a long time now, but domestic violence is one male-dominated field where inviting more female participation does not help promote gender equality.

Image via Wikipedia Commons

  • Gregory A. Butler

    There's an ugly racial subtext here - a blonde haired blue eyed White Aryan Swedish woman beat up her Black American husband for cheating on her.

    Now, as any person of color who's been to Scandinavia knows, underneath all that liberal tolerance is a strong streak of racism.

    We can see that bubbling to the fore here quite clearly.

  • Rachel C.

    At the same time, I might have a problem with the media demonizing her. That would feel a bit too anti-empowerment, mostly because the media does not consistently demonize male abusers. If they really went after her, I would just be wondering why they don't make that big of a deal about male perpetrators of domestic violence (I'm trying to think of a celebrity case here, but failing). I know Saturday Night Live did a sketch in which Elin was portrayed as crazed and controlling, and Tiger a terrified victim and it made me uncomfortable for just that reason. The "humor" of that sketch was pretty much, "Isn't it hilarious that the pretty blonde lady who is supposed to be demure and meek is capable of violence?" - and that's not really the kind of sentiment I want to hear either.

    Ideally, though, all violence would be portrayed as equally horrendous. I just don't know if encouraging media outlets to go after violent women would have any effect on domestic violence overall - the majority of which is perpetrated by men.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    How much money to buy Elin? She's a whore. A Mizzou women basketball player beat the crap out of a male cheerleader.

    She's a warrior. Elin is just a whore.

  • bmmg39

    I applaud you for writing this, Amanda Hess. And you are not alone in your thinking at all.

  • typhonblue

    " Almost 24% of all relationships had some violence, and half (49.7%) of those were reciprocally violent. In nonreciprocally violent relationships, women were the perpetrators in more than 70% of the cases."

  • Nina

    No.1, you really don't know if these media outlets are really prominent or respectable at all in Sweden. No. 2, just because some lame-ass newspaper prints a distasteful phrase on their cover, it doesn't mean that "Sweden" as a whole condones such crap. I think you're being unfair. And yes, I actually live here. People don't condone domestic violence.

  • Nina

    Mr Butler, you are too harsh and clearly need to immerse yourself in the scandinavian culture a little more before you make such extreme accusations. Racism iexists everywhere, but nowhere else in the world have I ever felt that the racists are a tiny fraction that always gets pushed down by the vast majority of people, who think racism and nationalism is a bunch of bollocks.
    Gonzalez, you are being repulsive. What right do you have to call a woman a whore when you don't know ANYTHING about her?? How else should she have responded to her ugly fate to convince you that she is a wife in despair over what happened?? I mean, really, your comments are not furthering the conversation one bit.

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    There's a word for women who take money to be with a man - what is it? Oh that's right - whore.

    Elin is nothing more than an expensive whore. It doesn't matter if it's taking $20 on the street, $100 off craigslist, or $100 million from some golfer. Whoring is whoring, it's just a matter of price.

    If Elin were truly a feminist, she would have kicked that pig's ass out of her house & out of her life. But, she's not a feminist, she just wants money. Therefore, she's a whore, an expensive whore no doubt, but a whore nonetheless.

  • Jaallan

    Meanwhile, that Senator in New York repeatedly abuses his girlfriend and always gets off with parole and anger management classes. Like abuse has anything to do with anger (it's all about control and power, not anger).

    Chris Brown, BeBe Winans, and now Elin. It makes you wonder if these people want to be this way, or if they’ve just never been taught anything different. For example Marala Scott’s (you know, the author up on Oprah right now) ‘Indicators of an Abuser‘ are intended just as much for people who might become abusers themselves as they are for potentially victims. Some people don't even recognize that they display those kinds of signals. A good idea for education.

    As for people Elin being a whore, I think that might be a bit get into some pretty murky waters with the economic nature of lifelong partnerships. Hollywood teaches us that "love" is all about "love," and not about anything else, but human history teaches us that the real, physical, actual world has a lot to do with it, actually.

    Which is why all violence is wrong. And the author of this article is right.

  • Alex

    The trolls this blog seems to get is unfortunate- maybe because it's attached to a general interest publication?

    Yeah, Gonzalez, I am not sure why you feel like you need to attach such a loaded epithet to a woman. It comes off as way misogynistic, pal. I am glad I don't have that much hatred for women that I have to label one I don't even know with a hurtful and sexist slur.

    And then yay, typhonblue trolls with some standard MRA junk. Woo!

  • typhonblue

    "And then yay, typhonblue trolls with some standard MRA junk."

    That's a quote from the Center of Disease Control domestic violence survey abstract.

    How is that MRA junk?

  • M

    "(Impact on perceptions of intimate violence) Men’s versus women’s violence

    Related to this, the fathers’ rights movement also has had some impact on public perceptions of intimate violence. In particular, it tells the lie that domestic violence is gender-equal or gender-neutral – that men and women assault each other at equal rates and with equal effects.

    While I’ve called this a lie, this is one claim for which there is some academic support.

    To support the claim that domestic violence is gender-symmetrical, advocates draw almost exclusively on studies using a measurement tool called the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS situates domestic violence within the context of “family conflict”. It asks one partner in a relationship whether, in the last year, they or their spouse have ever committed any of a range of violent acts. CTS studies generally find gender symmetries in the use of violence in relationships. There are three problems with the use made of such studies by fathers’ rights activists.

    First, men’s rights and fathers’ rights groups make only selective use of this data, as CTS authors themselves reject efforts to argue that women’s violence against men is as common or as harmful as men’s violence against women (Kimmel 2001, p. 22).

    Second, there are methodological problems with the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS is widely criticized for not gathering information about the intensity, context, consequences or meaning of the action. The CTS ignores who initiates the violence (when women are more likely to use violence in self-defense), assumes that violence is used expressively (e.g. in anger) and not instrumentally (to ‘do’ power or control), omits violent acts such as sexual abuse, stalking and intimate homicide, ignores the history of violence in the relationship, neglects the question of who is injured, relies on only one partner’s reports despite poor interspousal reliability, and omits incidents after separation and divorce, which is a time of increased danger for women.

    Third, a wide range of other data find marked gender asymmetries in domestic violence. For example, crime victimization studies based on large-scale aggregate data, household and crime surveys, police statistics, and hospital data all show that men assault their partners and ex-partners at rates several times the rate at which women assault theirs and that female victims greatly outnumber male victims (Tjaden & Thoennes 2000, pp. 25-26).

    Feminist and other scholars have worked to reconcile the conflicting findings of these bodies of data. One important insight is the recognition of different patterns of violent behaviour in couples and relationships. Some heterosexual relationships suffer from occasional outbursts of violence by either husbands or wives during conflicts, what some (Johnson 1995, 284-285) call “common couple violence”. Here, the violence is relatively minor, both partners practise it, it is expressive in meaning, it tends not to escalate over time, and injuries are rare. In situations of “patriarchal terrorism” on the other hand, one partner (usually the man) uses violence and other controlling tactics to assert or restore power and authority. The violence is more severe, it is asymmetrical, it is instrumental in meaning, it tends to escalate, and injuries are more likely.

    CTS studies are only a weak measure of levels of minor ‘expressive’ violence in conflicts among heterosexual couples. They are poorer again as a measure of ‘instrumental’ violence, in which one partner uses violence and other tactics to assert power and authority (Johnson 1995, 284–285).

    There is no doubt that men are the victims of domestic violence. Men experience domestic violence at the hands of female and male sexual partners, ex-partners, and other family members.

    A growing body of research tells us that there are important contrasts in women’s and men’s experiences of domestic violence. Women are far more likely than men to be subjected to frequent, prolonged, and extreme violence, to sustain injuries, to fear for their lives, and to be sexually assaulted (Kimmel 2001, 19; Bagshaw et al. 2000). Men subjected to domestic violence by women rarely experience post-separation violence and have more financial and social independence. Female perpetrators of domestic violence are less likely and less able than male perpetrators to use nonphysical tactics to maintain control over their partners (Swan & Snow 2002, 291-292).

    Women’s physical violence towards intimate male partners is often in self-defense (DeKeseredy et al. 1997; Hamberger et al. 1994; Swan & Snow 2002, 301; Muelleman & Burgess 1998, 866). On the other hand, women’s intimate violence can also be motivated by efforts to show anger, a desire for attention, retaliation for emotional hurt, and so on (Hamberger et al. 1994). It is inadequate to explain women’s violence simply in terms of their own oppression and powerlessness, and naïve to assume that women are immune from using violence to gain or maintain power in relationships (Russo 2001, 16-19).

    Men are likely to under-estimate and under-report their subjection to domestic violence by women (George 1994, 149; Stockdale 1998, 63). There is no evidence however that male victims are more likely to under-report than female victims. In fact, men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence and under-estimate their own, while women do the reverse (Kimmel 2001, 10-11).

    The fathers’ rights movement’s attention to domestic violence against men is not motivated by a genuine concern for male victimisation, but by political agendas concerning family law, child custody and divorce (Kaye & Tolmie 1998, pp. 53-57). This is evident in two ways.

    First, the fathers’ rights movement focuses on this violence when the great majority of the violence inflicted on men is not by female partners or ex-partners but by other men. Australian crime victimisation surveys find that less than one percent of violent incidents among men is by partners or ex-partners, compared to one-third of incidents among women (Ferrante et al. 1996, 104). Boys and men are most at risk of physical harm from other boys and men.

    Second, the fathers rights’ movement seeks to erode the protections available to victims of domestic violence and to bolster the rights and freedoms of alleged perpetrators, and this harms female and male victims of domestic violence alike."

  • typhonblue

    There's no point arguing. One day the truth will be recognized. That day I will finally be free.

    Incidentally, I'm not an MRA or Father's rights activist, I am a woman who was abused by other women.

  • Rain

    Oh, shut up, Amanda and allow us to simply revel in the glorious sound of Elin cracking a club over Tiger's head...

    Besides, I simply chalk it up to temporary insanity--Elin would get nothing but sympathy if she were brought up on charges!


  • typhonblue

    Oh, shut up, Amanda and allow us to simply revel in the glorious sound of Elin cracking a club over Tiger’s head…

    The funny thing about female abusers is that they often target other women as well as men. If Elin has no compunction about 'cracking a club' over Tiger's head, I bet she does as bad or worse to the women in her life as well.

    No abuser deserves excuses; No abuser should be celebrated.

  • Matt

    Domestic abuse know no gender, race or religion.There is never any excuse for it and violence only breeds more violence.

    Jallan thanks for that like to the Marala Scott's indicators of an abuser. We need to be more proactive in our society about this issue.

  • Dave

    Abuse is abuse is abuse. It should NEVER be condoned. I find it incredibly ironic that some (not all) feminists would try to minimize Partner Violence in any way, just because it is a male victim. If you don't tolerate PV, then don't. There should be NO exceptions.

    I am proud to be an FRA, because I do think that Men need more support when it comes to PV. I have and would never try to accomplish that by minimizing or excusing ANY kind of PV, or by taking away funding from one to feed the other. In the US and Canada, 30% of PV homicide victims are male, yet men do not have anywhere close to 30% of the support that women do. Support for PV victims should be available regardless of gender.

    Thank you to the writer for bringing this to the public's attention.

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  • Rain

    OMG! You guys really need to lighten the hell up...Elin didn't put Tiger in a coma for God's sake--she may or may not have cracked his tooth. Big damn deal!

    Oh jeez...I hope Tiger doesn't become the poster boy for female domestic violence against men! Gimme a break!

  • Equality

    Whatever the reason, no one has the right to physically abuse the other partner. Why is it acceptable if women hit men but if it is the other way around, everyone raises an eyebrow.

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  • Luminist

    [Rain said]: "OMG! You guys really need to lighten the hell up…Elin didn’t put Tiger in a coma for God’s sake..."

    Hmmmm... Come to think of it, Chris Brown didn't leave Rihanna in one, either.

  • typhonblue

    OMG! You guys really need to lighten the hell up…Elin didn’t put Tiger in a coma for God’s sake–she may or may not have cracked his tooth. Big damn deal!

    Did Rhianna even sustain that much damage? Should we 'lighten the hell up' about her?

    How about if Elin was swinging a golf club at another woman? Should we 'lighten the hell up' about that?

    How about a child?

    Abuse is abuse is abuse. It doesn't matter who is abusing whom. Or does it not matter when it's a woman abusing because women are inherently weak and ineffectual? Women don't need to learn to control themselves because they have no real impact on anyone or anything around them?

    They can act like psychopaths(and it's oh-so-cute!) because they have no responsibility to anyone ever?

    If this is what feminism is teaching women--to be psychopathic children in women's bodies--I, as a woman, want no part in it.

  • Rain

    I think people get on these sites and write what is proper and politically correct, but that truly isn't how they'd respond in a given situation...

    If any of you found out that your spouse was cheating on you with 14 other people and that your spouse had potentially exposed you and your children to STDs, I wonder how calmly you'd all react...

    You're all so full of it!

    BTW...Elin wasn't ABUSING Tiger...get your facts straight. She found out that Tiger had cheated and put her and her children's health at risk and she snapped. Period, end of story.

    I hope you're all this calm when you find yourselves in the same situation...

  • typhonblue

    I hope you’re all this calm when you find yourselves in the same situation…

    So you're giving the men the same latitude? Should a man find out that his wife has been cheating on him with 14 people and a goat he should charge after her with a sand wedge? How many free wacks does he get before it's DV?

    BTW, my sister-in-law has recently been in exactly the same situation as Elin and she managed to conduct herself, even under the same duress, with dignity and restraint.

    Shit happens; adults deal, childish psychos pick up a golf club and start swinging.

  • Rain

    I think if people are dumb enough to cheat on their spouses, they'd better be prepared for whatever outburst they get when their spouses finds out.'s a solution: DON'T CHEAT ON YOUR SPOUSE!!!

  • L. Steven Beene II

    Gee Rain, so I notice you have not answered nor replied to the OBVIOUS: If a MAN finds out his woman is cheating, as long as he does not put her in a coma, you're all right with that?

    Just checking to make sure your equality is really about that, and not some opportunity to have double standards.

    And for the long post about MRA/FRA people - gee, men speaking out is "wrong" and "different" - but the women here defending Elin are "empowered" and the tags used on this story are "girl power"

    So much for equality.


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  • Rain

    Hi Steven,

    Actually, I had not responded to the so-called "obvious," simply because I feel like I'm going around in pointless circles on this thread and I wasn't going to give it any more of my time, but I'm bored tonight, so I figured, what the heck:

    Honestly, if a man found out that his wife cheated on him with 14 or more other men and that she might have infected him and his children with a disease, if he broke down at that moment and took a swipe at her when he found out, I would feel sympathy for him if I were on a jury. I'm not saying his action would be right, but I would certainly have sympathy and be lenient toward him.

    I'm not applauding violence or aggression, but, frankly, Elin's initial response to Tiger is somewhat refreshing, considering we've seen so many other prominent women stand by their men after public discovery of their affairs. What kind of message does that send our daughters and other young women?

    A few years ago, I was in a college rhetoric course, and the very feminist professor of the course was shocked that I called Hillary Clinton stupid for standing by Bill after he had humiliated her on a global scale. I felt that with Hillary's own intelligence and personal accomplishments, there was no reason for her to remain with an unfaithful, disrespectful husband. She wasn't financially dependent upon Bill. I pointed out that this sent a very bad message to both Chelsea and other young feminist women--it sent the message that women don't deserve to be loved and respected. I was more shocked by the response of my very feminist female professor (who seemed offended by my opinion), but, interestingly, other young women in the class expressed that they felt exactly as I did.

    Elin's outburst of anger may not have been right, but at least she was displaying that she felt she deserved more respect than what her husband had given her.

    It frightens me that, with so many prominent women standing by their unfaithful men, young girls are going to grow up believing that this behavior is normal...that there is nothing wrong with staying with a man who disrespects you, cheats on you, and/or endangers your life or the lives of your children!

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  • Hani

    "Stateside, Tiger’s cheating has been deemed far more scandalous that Nordegren’s physical assault—commenters have labored to paint Nordegren as the victim to Woods’ web of affairs, but have hesitated to recognize Woods as a victim of domestic violence." No aUS attorney or abroad will take the side of Tiger for domestic violence. he got a deserved spanking is all.

  • Jeff

    The women who defend what Elin did are pathetic human beings with no sense of logic or reasoning. As far as this crap from the feminist who claim the MRA details on DV against men are false, the same could be said for any feminist group. They spew out lies and false statistics to get their agenda in Laws passed. Biased laws against men and fathers.

    If you don't think violence against men is a problem, then you're crazy. It will one day become more known as the men's movement grows. There is a reason that many womens shelters are changing their names to gender neutral shelters because of all the males they are receiving who are being abused.

    As far as the stupid and insane lies that feminists groups say, like when a women commits DV it's almost always in self defense. Why the hell are so many husbands killed in their sleep? How could you have to defend yourself against a sleeping person. They do this because they are aided by the laws where it gives them rights to commit these acts and then claim self defense after the fact. There are so many of these crimes and there was never any evidence or reports of previous DV. Women play the victim card all the time and the law encourages it.

    Rihanna reportedly verbally abused Chris Brown for 15 straight minutes, punched him 5 times, and you expect Brown to do nothing. Men's rights groups have been calling her to "woman up" and apologize for it and take some responsibility, but it is acceptable because the feminist media, court system, and people like all these women who say it's women power and the man had it coming. It's unacceptable for a man to ever hit a woman, even in self defense, but women are ok to hit men because there is no stigma to it and it's almost encouraged. The media is so misandrist, it's disgusting.

    The media has criticized Woods every day since this happened and not a word about what Elin did. If the roles were reversed, there would be outrage coming from all angles. Personally, I'm tired of the double standards we allow women to get away with in this country. Women want supremacy and special treatments. It makes me sick. There should be equal opportunities for all, and that's not what's happening in the good old USA.

  • Jeff

    Another thing I want to say is that the men's movement we started is not against women. We do not hate women, we want equal opportunities for all. We hope there will be women who join our group who are fed up with what the radical feminists are doing to our young boys, fathers, and many men. It's affecting our families in a negative way.

    Male/Female relationships are at an all-time low. They will only continue to get worse. Divorce rates are high, marriages are down, and the hatred is scary. Feminists are a group that claims all men are violent and rapists. They want supremacy and will do nothing to stop from achieving their agenda. Women and men need to step up and tell them enough is enough. This is a movement that was furious over the Tim Tebow add during the Super Bowl. This is an organization that is lead by a woman who said, "I am utterly shocked at the celebration of the horrific violence portrayed in the commercial against women." Any sane person with an ounce of logic could see there was no celebration of ANY violence, and it just goes to show what this feminist movement is all about.

    Demonize all men. Make it seem women are under constant danger from their husbands, boyfriends, and any other man. It's funny how the white female is the safest group in America. For every 100,000 people, black males are murdered 38 per 100,000 people; white males 7.8 per 100,000; black females 6.9; white females 2.1 per 100,000.

    Maybe violence advocates should start putting more funding into stopping the violence against black males. It would also be wise to stop ALL violence, not just those that affect women. But the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and women squeak more than anyone and will find an injustice even when there isn't one.

    The media perpetuates this all the time. Constantly showing women being murdered on shows like 48 hours mysteries, dateline, and other shows. The misandristic media portrays violence against women all the time. Fear mongering is typical with the media and feminist movement. I know women who are so afraid, they rarely leave their house at night and are scared to death when they do, because these groups will lead you to believe there is an evil man lurking behind every bush ready to kill you.

    99.9 percent of the 150 million males in this country want nothing more than to love and protect their wives and daughters, sisters and moms. Is there violence against women that needs to be addressed? Absolutely! But stop portraying all men as evil terrorists as I've heard women in the NOW group call men. Stop the fear mongering. There are DV and other violence that needs to be addressed, but the unfair funding, laws, and attack on men must stop. it's only adding to mens frustrations and making the conflict rise. Stop DV and violence against everyone.

    Women who have attitudes that accept and encourage female violence against men are a big problem. It's illogical reasoning at the worst level and the fact that some women don't understand this is troublesome. It will only lead to more violence for all. And like Chris Brown showed, you can only abuse someone so much before he responds with a whooping. Maybe us men should say she had it coming and boy power, good for him to stand up to her. I hope it never comes to that for men, like it has for women. It's a slippery slope. Where do we draw the line? If you feel someone has done an injustice to you, beat them with a weapon, or kill them, its acceptable after all. Girl Power! Pathetic!